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Crawfordjohn, Lanarkshire

Historical Description

CRAWFORDJOHN, a parish, in the Upper ward of the county of LANARK; including the post-village of Abington, and containing 993 inhabitants, of whom 137 are in the village of Crawfordjohn. This place, the name of which is supposed to have been derived from some proprietor of lands within the district, appears to have been originally a chapelry in the parish of Wiston. It was granted, together with the church of that place, to the monastery of Glasgow, and subsequently to that of Kelso, which retained it till about the year 1450, when it became a separate and independent parish. The lands coming into the possession of two co-heiresses, were for a considerable time held in moieties, till, in the reign of James V., Sir James Hamilton of Finart obtained them. After his decease, they descended to the Hamiltons of this place and Avondale, from whom, with the patronage of the church, they were purchased by James, Marquess of Hamilton, about the year 1620. In the reign of Charles II., the village of Crawfordjohn was, by charter granted to Anne, Duchess of Hamilton, made a burgh of barony, and the inhabitants were endowed with the privilege of a weekly market and several annual fairs, which have long been in disuse. Few events of historical importance are recorded as connected with the place: part of the rebel forces passed through it on their march to Glasgow, in the year 1745.

The PARISH is for the most part pleasantly situated on the banks of the river Duneaton, which partly separates it on the north from the parish of Douglas. It is bounded on the south by the river Glengonner. On the east flows the river Clyde, while on the west are the counties of Dumfries and Ayr, which unite with that of Lanark on the border of the parish, at a point where a stone has been erected called the Three-shire stone. The length of the parish is nearly twelve miles, as seen upon Forrest's map; and its breadth, which may be averaged at nine, varies from two to ten miles; comprising an irregular area of 26,600 acres, of which 4200 are arable, about 60 plantation, and the remainder pasture for sheep. The surface is flat only upon the borders of the rivers, and sometimes for a very short distance; the general aspect of the greater portion of it is that of one beautiful glen, inclosed by gently sloping hills of various elevation, and along which the river Duneaton winds its course for many miles, receiving in its progress the waters of the Snar, Blackburn, and other streams. The rivers abound with trout, and the Blackburn is celebrated for a dark-coloured species, which excels in quality, and is in great request, and also for eels, some of which are of large size.

The SOIL is extremely various. On the banks of the river it is a rich black loam, except in those parts which are subject to inundation, where it becomes mixed with sand and gravel. The sides of the hills are in some places a deep red clay, capable under proper management of producing excellent crops; and in several parts is a deep moss, which, after judicious draining, has in many instances been converted into fertile arable land. The principal crops are oats, bear, potatoes, and turnips. The pastures are very rich; the meadows afford excellent hay and in large quantities, the crops of clover and ryegrass are abundant, and the hills present good pasturage for sheep, of which the permanent stock in the parish exceeds 10,000. There are several large dairy-farms producing butter and cheese which are of excellent quality, and find a ready market at Edinburgh and Glasgow. In a few dairies, the curds of cows' and ewes' milk have been wrought separately, and then put the one upon the other into the same vat, and pressed: this cheese, having two sides of different qualities, has brought a high price, and is in great demand. The number of cows and heifers exceeds 1000, chiefly of the Ayrshire breed, to the improvement of which much attention has been paid; the sheep are of the black-faced kind, except a few of a mixed breed between the Cheviot and the Leicester. The plantations, which are chiefly at Glespin, Gilkerscleugh, and Abington, are Scotch fir, spruce, beech, lime, chesnut, and oak. Some advance has been made in draining and inclosing the lands; and a society for encouraging the improvement of live stock has been established by the farmers of this and the parish of Crawford, which has been sanctioned by many of the heritors in both. The annual value of real property in the parish is £6329. The substratum of the soil and the bases of the hills are mostly whinstone and freestone, of which several quarries are worked; limestone is also prevalent, and works have been established at Whitecleugh and Wildshaw, the latter on the borders of Douglas parish. There are indications of coal in several parts of the parish, though no works have been opened; lead-ore has been found at Craighead, and near the source of the Snar, at which latter place it is wrought. Some vestiges remain of a work opened at Abington for the discovery of gold; and in repairing a road some years since, several pieces of spar, in which copper was embedded, were found among the rubbish. There is also a tradition that silver-mines were formerly wrought in the parish: probably it originated in finding small portions of that metal in combination with the lead-ore. Through the lower part of the parish the road from Glasgow to Carlisle passes for about five miles, and in a neighbouring parish is the Abington station of the Caledonian railway, presenting great facility of communication. A subscription library has been established in the village of Crawfordjohn, and there is likewise one supported at Abington. Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Lanark, synod of Glasgow and Ayr: the minister's stipend is about £235, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £16 per annum; patron, Sir T. E. Colebrooke. Crawfordjohn church, which is conveniently situated, was enlarged in 1817, and will accommodate 300 persons. The parochial school is attended by about seventy scholars; the master has a salary of £32. 10., with about £26 fees, and a house and garden.

There were formerly the remains of the castles of Crawfordjohn, Boghouse, Mosscastle, Glendorch, and Snar, the last of which was celebrated for the exploits of its proprietor during the border warfare. On the bleak hill opposite Gilkerscleugh are traces of a circular encampment consisting of two concentric circles, the innermost of which is about thirty yards in diameter, and has between it and the outer an interval of ten yards. There are vestiges of a similar intrenchment near Abington; and on the bank of the Clyde is the appearance of a moat, within which is a mound fifty yards in circumference at the base, and thirty feet higher than the surface of the water. In the peat-bogs have been frequently discovered alder-trees and hazel in a prostrate position, and, at various times, coins of Antoninus, and others of the reign of Edward I.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis